anonymous on August 29, 2011

What can we do to avoid painful sex for my wife as we get older?

My wife and I are both healthy 47-year-olds who have been married for more than 20 years. Basically my wife dislikes deep penetration because she feels like it "bumps her internal organs." Is there any way we can get both deep penetration for me and comfort for her? Is there such a thing as a vagina that is "too short"?

answered by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD on August 29, 2011

Thank you for your question. I’ll do my best to offer you some useful information.

First, I would encourage your wife to see her doctor to find out whether there are any issues or abnormalities with her vagina, cervix, uterus or other reproductive organs. Only a doctor can help determine whether her discomfort during intercourse is related to a medical condition, or something else.

One condition with symptoms similar to those you describe is a prolapsed uterus. It’s normal (and natural) for the uterus and supporting tissues to drop or prolapse a little after childbirth and with increasing age. This technically “shortens” the vagina, because it typically causes the cervix to protrude into the vaginal canal.

If this is the case for your wife, you’re both in luck…there are some solutions that she can talk to her doctor about.For starters, there are corrective surgical procedures available that range from mildly invasive (tightening everything up) to a full removal of the uterus (ahysterectomy).

After such surgeries, some women are able to experience orgasms for the first time and enjoy deep penetration. However, surgery may not be the right choice for your wife and her specific condition…again, she should consult her doctor to discuss what makes the most sense for her.

Other health conditions that can cause painful sex include polyps, infections, inflammations, or even cancer…your wife’s doctor orgynecologist can help identify the root cause of her pain, and offer possible treatments and remedies that may also increase her sexual pleasure.

You and your wife might also benefit from extended loveplay (foreplay). When a woman becomes aroused, her vagina actually lengthens. If vaginal intercourse occurs before the woman is fully aroused she may experience pain and feel as though her vagina is “too short” when her partner’s penis touches her cervix.

With age, women often also experience less vaginal lubrication. So spending more time on sexual stimulating (kissing, caressing of nipples, genital stimulation, and so on) and using extra lubricant may also help address this concern.

Finally, if you’ve not already have done so, try to experiment with different positions, such as the superior position where she sits straddled over you, or rear entry where you enter her from behind, or sometimes lying side by side might be more comfortable. You don’t know what works until you try.

I wish you and your wife good health and good luck in your journey toward a more mutually satisfying sex life.

Related info:

Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD

Dr. Owens is an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. Her areas of expertise include the medical aspects of human sexuality and sexual problems, as well as the impact of STDs ⎼ and other diseases, illnesses and disabilities ⎼ on sexuality. Dr. Owens was educated at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Related Q&A's

What happens to male sexuality with age?
Now that I’m 64, I only ejaculate about half the time when I have sex. What’s going on?
I’m a 70-year-old with a high libido and a body that doesn’t cooperate. What can I do?